Officers help city businesses become COVID-safe

The City of Melbourne is ramping up efforts to reactivate hospitality businesses with a plan for up to 200 Safety Officers to deliver COVID-19 safety kits to restaurants and cafes.

​The safety kits will include a digital thermometer, information on options for digital check-ins and contact tracing of patrons and staff, fact sheets on enhanced cleaning and infection control, masks, hand sanitiser, floor markers and signage.

Lord Mayor Sally Capp said that, as case numbers continue to decline, flexibility should be offered to allow indoor and outdoor dining options to open at the same time.

“While we welcome the State Government’s decisive and positive action on outdoor dining, such arrangements do not suit all of our cafes, pubs and restaurants. That is why we have created a plan for fast-tracking indoor dining that we will continue to advocate to the Premier and the State Government,” the Lord Mayor said.

“We know that around 10 per cent of restaurants in the CBD have already closed as a result of necessary COVID-19 restrictions. Our proposal to open indoor and outdoor dining at the same time is based on a commitment to work individually with each hospitality business in the city.

“At this stage, restricted outdoor dining is scheduled to be allowed from Monday 26 October. I urge the Government to consider bringing this date forward if case numbers continue to fall.

“We’re doing everything we can to slow the spread of the virus and get Melbourne’s economy back in business. That’s why we’re providing enhanced support and oversight to help businesses operate in a COVID-safe way.

“Food premises are already heavily regulated with food safety and food handling plans and the transition to a COVID-safe environment is therefore much smoother and achievable. Melbourne restaurant, pub and cafe owners are dedicated to delivering COVID-safe venues.

“There are very few COVID-19 cases in Victoria that have occurred as a result of hospitality businesses.”

Recent research shows COVID-19 has had a $1.99 billion impact on the City of Melbourne’s food and accommodation sector. The modelling shows 22,924 jobs are likely to be lost in accommodation and food services this year in our municipality, a 42 per cent reduction.

The 10-Point Plan would be in addition to the Industry Restart Guidelines for Hospitality, which are currently operational in regional Victoria.

The City of Melbourne’s Safe Indoor Dining 10-Point Plan for re-opening indoor dining faster includes:

  1. The provision of a safety kit to every hospitality business, including digital thermometers enable temperature checks and screening on entry.
  2. The deployment of COVID-19 Safety Officers to support hospitality businesses and ensure they are COVID-safe.
  3. A commitment from hospitality businesses to ensure all staff undertake free Department of Health and Human Services COVID-safe training.
  4. The requirement that all hospitality staff and patrons wear masks at all times (except when patrons are eating and drinking), in line with the Industry Restart Guidelines for Hospitality operational in regional Victoria.
  5. A requirement that venues position tables at least 1.5 metres apart and adhere to their COVID-Safe Plan.
  6. Two hour dining limits for all bookings and table service only (no bar service).
  7. Restaurants to allow bookings only (no walk-ins) to prevent queuing and control the arrival and departure of guests. Tables and chairs should also be cleaned between each booking
  8. A cap of 50 people dining indoors (or 1 person per 4 square metres of dining space, whichever is lesser).
  9. A cap of 100 people dining outdoors (or 1 person per 2 square metres of dining space, whichever is lesser.)
  10. City of Melbourne commits to working closely with the Department of Health and Human Services to monitor regulatory compliance and assist in addressing any concerns.

The actions in this 10-Point Plan would be superseded when restrictions are removed and Melbourne enters into COVID normal conditions.

City of Melbourne Medical Officer of Health Dr Ines Rio said: “Under the 10-Point Plan the City of Melbourne will support and oversee the enhanced screening of patrons, infection control, monitoring and business support. This will help facilitate an earlier move to reopening hospitality businesses in a way that is safe for staff, patrons and the community.”

Australian Venue Company CEO Paul Waterson said: “We welcome the initiatives proposed by the City of Melbourne and encourage the Government to support them, as they have been designed to ensure Melbourne’s hospitality industry can open in a safe and meaningful way.

“Our industry is heavily regulated and as a result, we have highly trained teams who are prepared for this re opening. It will be a long road to full recovery for our industry but being able host up to 150 people in a large venue, with appropriate social distancing measures in place, will ensure we can get our teams back to the jobs and city they love and start restoring the city’s reputation as a world class hospitality destination.”

Australian Hotels Association Victoria CEO Paddy O’Sullivan said: “Melbourne’s pubs and hotels are COVID-safe and ready to reopen in a safe and responsible manner. We can manage customer movement in our venues to minimise any risks by adhering to the DHHS requirements set out in the COVID-Safe Plan. Our pubs and hotels should be trusted to reopen so Melbourne can continue as Australia’s best destination for hospitality, major events and tourism.”   

Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chief Executive Paul Guerra welcomed the City of Melbourne plan: “Businesses want one thing – and that is to open. It is the best support we can give them. Melbourne is globally-renowned for our hospitality, café, pubs and restaurant culture. We need to do all we can now to preserve that world-renowned reputation while giving businesses hope, salvaging much-needed jobs and putting us on a common-sense and well-regulated pathway to economic recovery.”

Restaurant & Catering Industry Association CEO Wes Lambert said: “Restaurant & Catering Australia (R&CA) welcomes The City of Melbourne’s Safe Indoor Dining 10-Point Plan for re-opening indoor dining faster. The Hospitality industry is at the heart of Melbourne, its culture, its world class reputation and livability. It is critical that the industry is allowed to reopen using common sense measures and COVID-safe plans to get Melbournians back into jobs, businesses back in business and the Melbourne economy back on track to a steady recovery.”

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